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1999 News Releases


Duke Alumnus W. Michael McCabe New Deputy Administrator at U. S. EPA

Release Date: 12/8/1999
Contact Information: Patrick Boyle (215) 814-5533

Patrick Boyle (215) 814-5533

PHILADELPHIA - President Clinton has nominated W. Michael McCabe, a 1974 Duke liberal arts graduate, as deputy administrator for the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency. Pending Senate action on the nomination, EPA Administrator Carol M. Browner appointed Mr. McCabe to serve as acting deputy administrator.

The deputy administrator is the second highest official at the EPA. Mr. McCabe will be responsible for day-to-day operation of the agency, as well as serving as the top policy advisor to Administrator Browner and the Clinton White House.

"Michael McCabe has done an outstanding job as regional administrator for the mid-Atlantic states, tackling some of the toughest environmental and public health problems in the nation. I am delighted that we can now tap his considerable skills to provide national leadership for the agency," Mrs. Browner said.

Mr. McCabe had a double major while studying in Durham, graduating in 1974 with a bachelor of arts in political science/sociology. He was secretary of the Student Union, and served on the Major Attractions and Major Speakers committees.

Recalling that "I also proudly served students at the Duke dining halls," he went on to a lifetime of public service.

Mr. McCabe brings to his new post more than 25 years of experience and commitment to environmental policy and leadership. First appointed by President Clinton in 1995 to oversee environmental protection in the middle Atlantic states, Mr. McCabe served in that post longer than any predecessor.

From getting control of factory farm and slaughterhouse waste polluting rivers and bays to restoring drinkable water to the District of Columbia three years ago, Mr. McCabe faced some of the nation’s toughest environmental issues, and delivered a solid record of environmental success.

Mr. McCabe directed EPA’s national approach to managing poultry waste from factory farms, and spearheaded a four-agency federal effort to strengthen permitting for mining low-sulfur coal supplies while protecting streams in the Appalachian coal fields.

He has worked steadily to fulfill the primary environmental mandate of the Clinton/Gore Administration: to protect public health and the environment, and to do so in a flexible, cost-effective and common-sense manner.
But he also has taken a firm stand against rampant pollution, winning the stiffest fine ever levied under the Clean Water Act -- $12.6 million -- from Smithfield Foods of Virginia, America’s largest pork producer, and pressuring the company to redirect its slaughterhouse waste stream from Chesapeake Bay headwaters to a sewage treatment plant.

Mr. McCabe faced one of the region’s toughest issues in 1996 when he brought EPA full-force into fixing the drinking water crisis that gripped the nation’s capitol. Residents of the District of Columbia were boiling water until Mr. McCabe sent in technical experts from around the country, sampled water every day, set an enforceable rebuild schedule for the drinking water system, established telephone hotlines, and helped put a new management structure in place.

Prior to his EPA appointment, Mr. McCabe served as Delaware Senator Joe Biden’s director of communications and projects, representing the senator throughout the state and serving as senior advisor on Delaware issues.

Before that, Mr. McCabe was a Capitol Hill policy expert during creation of some of America’s most important environmental legislation, working alongside citizens groups and Congress as an inside policymaker. He directed the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives Energy Conservation and Power Subcommittee from 1981 to 1985, and was staff director of the bipartisan Congressional Environmental and Energy Study Conference from 1976 to 1979. He organized and directed the national commemoration of the tenth anniversary of Earth Day in 1980.

Mr. McCabe started his career in public service in 1975 as legislative assistant to Colorado Senator Gary Hart, where he specialized in environmental and energy policy, including the promotion of solar energy as an alternative to fossil fuels. In 1981, he staffed the congressional delegation to the first United Nations Conference on Energy in Nairobi, Kenya.

His community involvement in Wilmington, Delaware, has included board membership with the Delaware Theater Company and with Delaware Futures, which provides college scholarships to low-income, disadvantaged teenagers. His wife, Marķa, is president of her own communications consulting firm and his two young daughters attend preschool in Wilmington, Delaware.